The Urban Population of Belarus in the 11th-19th Centuries: Craniological Characteristics

DOI: 10.14673/IJA2015341013
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.3-4 – 2015

Key words: Belarus, urban populations, craniological characteristics, secular trends.


Results from a craniometrical study on a series of skulls from Slavic urban cemeteries are presented. The skulls date from the 11th-19th centuries. The earliest skulls (30 male and 15 female) examined in this study were from an urban cemetery in Novogrudok, in the Grodno region, in the west of Belarus, where they had been buried in soil in the late 11th- early 12th centuries. Other urban populations were represented by a series of skulls excavated from soil burial grounds in the following cities: Polotsk, the north of Belarus (45 male and 11 female skulls from the 17th-18th centuries); Gory (25 male and 18 female skulls from the 17th-18th centuries); and the central part of Minsk (19 male and 15 female skulls from the 17th-19th centuries). Comparisons revealed that the series from Novogrudok was the most dolichocranic. On the whole, with the exception of some slight differences, all the skulls in this series were fairly similar. Skulls from later periods, however, as opposed to those found at Novogrudo, were brachycranic. This would appear to correspond with a process of gradual gracilization and brahicefalization, which took place in most of Europe in the second millennium AD and has been observed in later groups of the population.

Salivon, I.
Department of Anthropology and Ecology, Institute of History, The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus,
Minsk, Belarus.

Yemialyanchyk, V.A.
Department of National and World History, Polotsk State University, Novopolotsk, Belarus.


The Population of Polotsk in the 17-18th Centuries According to Anthropological Data

DOI: 10.14673/IJA201511003
Published in Int. Journal of Anthropology – Vol. 30 – n.1 – 2015

Key words: paleoanthropology, craniology, osteology, skeletal proportions, bone robusticity, Polotsk, Belarus.

The objective of our research was the complex study of the 17- 18th century palaeoanthropological series of specimens from Polotsk. The specimens were obtained as a result of archaeological excavations in the territory of the Polotsk fortified settlement. These excavations yielded the skeletal remains of 48 human skeletons in various conditions. The craniological specimens from the burials represent 43 skulls: 14 male, 10 female and 19 children, 20 of which (14 male and 6 female) turned out to be suitable for measuring in accordance with the craniometric program. We also measured and subsequently analysed postcranial skeletons on the basis of robusticity and hardness indices of the long bones of arms and legs. We selected 21 skeletons of adult subjects for our osteometric study. We mea- sured 13 male and 8 female postcranial skeletons.
We have established morphological similarity between the Polotsk population and the rural population of Lukoml, which denotes genetic relations between the townsmen and the local population of the Polotsk vicinity.
The average value of intravital body length in males was 165.9 cm. and in females 155.4 cm. Males were more often characterized by a comparatively shortened forearm compared to the shoulder, according to the value of the brachial index. The male group were characterized by very flattened radii with a well pronounced interosseous crest. The females, on the contrary, had slightly flattened bones with a not very pronounced interosseous crest.

Borutskaya, S.B.
Department of Anthropology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia.

Vasilyev, S.V.
Department of Physical Anthropology,
N.N. Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology,
The Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Yemialyanchyk V.A.
Department of National and World History,
Polotsk State University, Polotsk, Republic of Belarus.